Author Topic: I'm a renter that just got hit with an increase- is my response reasonable?  (Read 5673 times)

catccc

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We moved in January 2011, on a one-year lease and month to month with 30 days notice from either tenant or landlord after that.  So we have been there for (at the end of this month) 5 years and the rent ($1,200) has not changed in this time. 

We got a notice of a rent increase effective Jan 1 in the mail yesterday, 12/9.  Rent is going up $200, to $1,400.  It is quite a jump but I understand we have reaped the benefits of unusually stable rent over the last 4 years.  Compared to a 3.1% increase every year over the time we've been in our place, this single larger increase works out in our favor by about $4,580, in terms of total rent paid.

Our landlord has actually also made money saving improvements to the property (conversion from oil to gas heat, and from electric hot water tank to gas on demand hot water.)  We've been happy with our landlord and I believe he's been happy with us.

In addition to the rent increase, he would like us to sign another 1 year lease.  After a year it goes back to month to month.

We've been looking for a place to buy on and off for about 7 years now, and I don't know when we are going to find a place that we are willing to buy, but I really value the month-to-month state of our current agreement. 

The current lease does have a 30-day notification policy for vacancy, but doesn't really have a notification policy for changes in rent or updates to the lease agreement.

Here is what I'd like to email to my landlord:


We received your notice of the rent increase in the mail yesterday, 12/9.  Of course we were sorry to see the increase, but we do understand the reasons behind the it.

I know when we first moved in I mentioned we were looking to buy at some point and valued the month-to-month terms of the lease that followed the initial year.  The updated lease also asks for another 1 year term before going to month-to-month with 30 days notice.  Would it be possible for us to continue on the month-to-month terms along side the rent increase?  I can't say I would bet on us moving in the next year, anyway.  But it would be appreciated given the long-standing and positive landlord-tenant relationship we have.  Or, if that is not possible, perhaps the penalty (one month's rent) for moving out before a year can be removed if circumstances allow for no break in tenancy?

Lastly, would it be possible for the increase to commence on February 1, 2016, rather than January 1, 2016?  I'm not sure if the 30 day notification terms in the lease apply only to changes in tenancy or all changes to the lease agreement.  We are only 3 weeks out from January 1st at this point.

Let me know your thoughts on these changes; I look forward to hearing from you!


Am I being reasonable here?  Is the request to put off the increase by a month kinda petty?  If it might be perceived as such, I think I should drop it.  Any other feedback?  (If you respond, let me know if you are a renter or a landlord or neither, I just want to be able to understand perspective.)

CheapskateWife

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Very reasonable response, I think...and you can always ask for deference based on your long standing relationship.  However, the landlord is negotiating from a "position of strength" so you may not get everything you want or even anything you want.  It never hurts to ask, and considering the tone of your request; I can't imagine an overly negative response from the landlord


oldmannickels

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Consider a longer notification period to something around 3 months. You can usually move back the close of your house purchase to fit into that window and it gives your landlord more comfort which is what they are looking for.

therethere

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In terms of trying to keep the month to month. One other option that could be considered is 60 days notice to move out versus the 30. That may help him be more open to it.

I think your response is well thought out and reasonable. Best of luck! I would love for my landlords to let me lapse into a month-to-month contract. Every year like clockwork they come back and asking for another lease to be signed. I find this to be one of the major downsides to renting. Though I understand I do reap some benefits also.  Oh well.

Jack

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Is the request to put off the increase by a month kinda petty?  If it might be perceived as such, I think I should drop it.

Nope, it's an excellent idea -- as a negotiation tactic. By inserting an item that you don't actually care about that much, you've padded your position and made it more likely to get the month-to-month lease you really want.

In fact, in your position I might even insert another ask, e.g. that the rent increase only be $100 or something, so that it will appear that you end up conceding something even more valuable.

Jesstache

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As a landlord, I'd likely accept your proposal and move on.  I'd possibly try for a 6 month lease, depending on my reasoning for asking for the 1 year lease.  Don't forget the landlord doesn't want to feel petty about 1 month's worth of $200 either so go ahead and leave that in there.  They likely expected some push back from the $200 increase also so I would just be glad you weren't asking for it to be only a $100 increase (though I would probably say no, because I think $200 is fair after 4 years). 

I also don't fault or get offended by people trying to negotiate for a smaller increase than I've proposed because I'd do the same thing if I were a tenant and it never hurts to ask.

catccc

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Thanks all for the responses so far.  I especially like the idea of increasing the notification period if it helps my landlord accept continuing month-to-month terms.

As for negotiating the actual rent down... I feel like I can't!  The monthly rent is still below market (rents have been on the rise in recent years here), and the location can't be beat.  Similar rentals with slightly worse locations (it's a very small town) go for around $1,500 to $1,900.  The $1,200 we have been paying for 5 years will now only get us a 2 BR apartment.  We are in a 3 BR duplex with a garage and additional off street parking.

I'm surprised to hear a couple of people suggest that I leave the one month deferral of the increase in as a request.  I thought for sure you guys were going to say I shouldn't bother.  Does it make a difference knowing now that the rent is below market?

therethere

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For sure leave it in there. If its month to month they must give you 30 days notice to changes in the agreement. Think of it like a 30 day mini-lease. You can't just change a lease in the middle of the term unless both sides agree.

Jack

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As for negotiating the actual rent down... I feel like I can't!  The monthly rent is still below market (rents have been on the rise in recent years here), and the location can't be beat.  Similar rentals with slightly worse locations (it's a very small town) go for around $1,500 to $1,900.  The $1,200 we have been paying for 5 years will now only get us a 2 BR apartment.  We are in a 3 BR duplex with a garage and additional off street parking.

So what? This is a negotiation! Nobody ever said your initial offer has to be reasonable; in fact, I think it should almost be unreasonable on purpose. That way, you can make concessions without losing what you actually wanted. The more you ask for at the beginning (as long as it isn't so excessive that it offends the other party to the point that they walk away from the table) the more you end up with at the end.

And note the "to the point that they walk away from the table" part above. Even an offer that offends them is okay, as long as they keep negotiating! (In fact, they might even be faking it -- that's a tactic all on its own.)

If you ask for nothing but the month-to-month contract, your landlord is likely to come back with either "nope, sorry" or, at best, offer to reduce the lease term to six months. If you actually want the month-to-month lease, you probably have to start off asking for more. It's possible that the landlord might be so elated by your unexpectedly-generous counteroffer -- I can almost guarantee he's expecting you ask to reduce that $200 increase, so accepting it will surprise him -- that he decides to quit while he's ahead, but I wouldn't count on it.


With This Herring

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Sure, you are below market on rent, but if other tenants in your area frequently move, pay late, disturb the neighbors, or destroy things, your landlord is more likely to give a little to keep you.  That saves him costs of doing the new painting, carpet cleaning/replacement etc. that happens before a new lease, along with lack of rent from vacancies and possible commissions to a rental broker to get a new tenant.

My landlord waited years to increase our rent from $600 to $625 (and that increase only after I prodded him) because:
1) We live in half of the top floor of his house (other tenant is on other half, and he and his family are on the ground floor), so us being generally quiet people who don't throw loud parties is a huge boon.
2) We pay the rent timely (he has had major issues with other tenants in the past, including a niece of his).
3) We are patient with repairs.
4) We don't trash the place, attract bugs, etc.
5) Though heat is included in rent, we keep it down and don't open all the windows with the heat going (same niece!).

willystache

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Re: I'm a renter that just got hit with an increase- is my response reasonable?
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2015, 12:25:09 PM »
Looonnngg time reader, first time poster here. I have been in this exact same situation..... As a Landlord. You try to do the right thing, treat your residents well, make upgrades, communicate clearly, etc. You appreciate good residents and  keep rent below market for years and years....understanding the value of low vacancy, stability, etc. Finally, you work up the gumption to increase the rent. Yes, its substantial on its face. BUT, as the resident, you have saved THOUSANDS over the past 5 years! Sure, you are more than entitled to negotiate all you want. But, at the end of the day, IMHO, the right thing to do is agree to the increase and send your landlord a thank you/happy holidays card!  In my decade plus of experience, 3 scenarios play out when residents are paying  under market for years: 1. They raise their own rent (no kidding! It happened! Allows them a strong interpersonal negotiating position). 2. They see my perspective, agree that they have been getting a helluva deal. Or 3. They negotiate. Sure, its their right. But, it feels like "giving an inch and taking a foot" after years and years of below market rents on the residents part. Of course, this is all from a landlord's eyes.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2015, 12:26:49 PM by willystache »

CommonCents

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Re: I'm a renter that just got hit with an increase- is my response reasonable?
« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2015, 01:03:36 PM »
It sounds like you may have a legal right* not to pay the $200 increase unless you are given 30 days notice.  Given that, I don't think it's inappropriate to ask not to pay it.

I would leave this off: "Or, if that is not possible, perhaps the penalty (one month's rent) for moving out before a year can be removed if circumstances allow for no break in tenancy?"  You can always offer it if he refuses, but if you suggest it initially he won't bite at  your first offer.  If he refuses - and offers no alternative - you can suggest this then.

Unlike willystache, I see this as generally happily agreeing the to increase - you are just politely asking for flexibility on other terms that matter to you (and one of which you may be entitled to by law).  You're not trying to request $100 off  (Willystache, as a landlord you are getting good residents out of the deal.  If you don't want them paying below markets rates, you can always raise it immediately, and risk getting not so great tenants.  Keep in mind you're getting something too with the arrangement, which is largely why I presume you may choose to delay to avoid rocking the boat.)

* I don't know your laws so I only raise the possibility - I'm not saying you do.

catccc

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Re: I'm a renter that just got hit with an increase- is my response reasonable?
« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2015, 02:13:26 PM »
I was all ready to up my negotiation game, and then willystache comes along making me feel like an ungrateful jerk.

I think I'm going to drop the request to defer the increase, and just ask for some flexibility on the month to month.

zephyr911

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Re: I'm a renter that just got hit with an increase- is my response reasonable?
« Reply #13 on: December 10, 2015, 03:05:17 PM »
The end of the first sentence "the it".

Otherwise, it's well worded and I have nothing to add to the feedback above.

LZZ

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Re: I'm a renter that just got hit with an increase- is my response reasonable?
« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2015, 03:09:47 PM »
Landlord here too.  Agree with willystache. 

CommonCents

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Re: I'm a renter that just got hit with an increase- is my response reasonable?
« Reply #15 on: December 10, 2015, 06:30:31 PM »
Landlord here too.  Agree with willystache.

But would you give your tenant less than a month's notice on the change?

catccc

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Re: I'm a renter that just got hit with an increase- is my response reasonable?
« Reply #16 on: December 10, 2015, 07:10:45 PM »
Thanks everyone for the help!

So I sent it off nearly as it was presented, typo (the extra "the") included.  Oops on the typo.  Oh well.  I did take off the second string option on the month to month- the part about maybe not having the penalty if there is no break in tenants.  I'll get into alternatives only if he doesn't respond in the affirmative to my first request.  Added some pleasantries to start off (hope you and family are enjoying the holidays...)

I also left the deferral of the increase to February on there.   We'll see what happens.  I won't be able to stop checking my email tonight.

The NYT rent v. buy calculator always told me that renting for under $1,200-something was a better deal.  Now my world has been turned upside down!  So naturally I want the month-to-month more than I ever did before.

monarda

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Re: I'm a renter that just got hit with an increase- is my response reasonable?
« Reply #17 on: December 10, 2015, 09:17:24 PM »
Landlord here, charging $1100, which is about $200-$300 under market (so we hear).  We are deciding how much we should raise rent this year.  Bookmarking to see how this turns out.  Good luck!

firelight

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Re: I'm a renter that just got hit with an increase- is my response reasonable?
« Reply #18 on: December 10, 2015, 10:43:21 PM »
Another renter here, I'm surprised so many people prefer the month to month lease. I prefer having a year long lease because I don't have to worry about rent increases or having the pain of moving constantly. I agree month to month is good for landlord but why is it good for renter?

escolegrove

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Re: I'm a renter that just got hit with an increase- is my response reasonable?
« Reply #19 on: December 10, 2015, 11:42:08 PM »
Thanks all for the responses so far.  I especially like the idea of increasing the notification period if it helps my landlord accept continuing month-to-month terms.

As for negotiating the actual rent down... I feel like I can't!  The monthly rent is still below market (rents have been on the rise in recent years here), and the location can't be beat.  Similar rentals with slightly worse locations (it's a very small town) go for around $1,500 to $1,900.  The $1,200 we have been paying for 5 years will now only get us a 2 BR apartment.  We are in a 3 BR duplex with a garage and additional off street parking.

I'm surprised to hear a couple of people suggest that I leave the one month deferral of the increase in as a request.  I thought for sure you guys were going to say I shouldn't bother.  Does it make a difference knowing now that the rent is below market?

Honestly I would not send that letter if you are that below market. I am a landlord of 7 properties. If I received that letter from a tenant that I was trying to be generous to I would be very annoyed. He is saving you any where from $100- $500 a month and you are nitpicking in my mind. I have learned over the years, that many tenants have the mind set that it doesn't hurt to ask. in my mind, as a landlord that is only true IF you are willing to be called on your bluff.

My only piece of advice. Would you be upset if the landlord was upset over you letter and gave you 30 days notice to vacate?

catccc

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Re: I'm a renter that just got hit with an increase- is my response reasonable?
« Reply #20 on: December 11, 2015, 07:34:26 AM »
Another renter here, I'm surprised so many people prefer the month to month lease. I prefer having a year long lease because I don't have to worry about rent increases or having the pain of moving constantly. I agree month to month is good for landlord but why is it good for renter?

Because we are looking to buy, and so we want the flexibility of being able to leave without the penalties of breaking a year long lease.  The penalty is one month's rent.  Not huge, but money is money.

Honestly I would not send that letter if you are that below market. I am a landlord of 7 properties. If I received that letter from a tenant that I was trying to be generous to I would be very annoyed. He is saving you any where from $100- $500 a month and you are nitpicking in my mind. I have learned over the years, that many tenants have the mind set that it doesn't hurt to ask. in my mind, as a landlord that is only true IF you are willing to be called on your bluff.

My only piece of advice. Would you be upset if the landlord was upset over you letter and gave you 30 days notice to vacate?

Would I be upset?  Yes, of course I would.  Would I feel like I was due anything?  No, those are the terms of the lease, and he'd be within them.

We received the letter of the increase in rent on 12/9 for an increase effective 1/1.  That is less than 30 days, IMO, that is outside of the terms of the lease. 

If a landlord was so offended by a couple of small requests and wanted me to move my family out in 30 days because of it, than he can fuck off, because I wouldn't want to rent from such a vengeful asshole.  Fortunately, I don't think he is like that at all.  We are excellent tenants, take care of little things on our own, only call if necessary (plumbing blew up or refrigerator died), always pay timely, don't trash the place, and are courteous neighbors.  From the tales I read around here, a good tenant is worth something to a landlord.

I don't get what you even mean by the landlord calling "my bluff."  Calling one's bluff means forcing someone to admit the truth, and I haven't obscured the truth at all in my note to my landlord.  I said, "I like the flexibility, can I still have it?"  And, "hey, it's less than 30 days, can we go by the terms of the lease?"  Calling a bluff is when you tell a kid he's not going to a birthday party if he doesn't get his shoes on in 5 seconds, when you fully intend to go to the party anyway, and said kid puts shoes on in 6 seconds and you still go to the party.  wtf.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2015, 07:47:18 AM by catccc »

catccc

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Re: I'm a renter that just got hit with an increase- is my response reasonable?
« Reply #21 on: December 11, 2015, 09:59:32 AM »
His response:

Hi Tenant,
We sincerely appreciate your understanding.  We certainly don't like taking these actions any more often than we have too, especially for great tenants like yourselves. 

We can certainly continue with the month-to-month terms, and wave the additional year requirement.  Simply strike through the requirement,  and initial next to the change.

For accounting purposes,  we would prefer to start Jan 1st, and we would wave any late fees for this first month, if needed.

Thank you!
Landlord


So, I think all is good.  I responded to express my thanks for his flexibility, as well as note that we are very grateful for the years we haven't had an increase, and for the property upgrades.  And to let him know I was able to update our auto-bill pay and the new amount should come with the usual timing later this month.

Thanks all for your input!!!

Going to see a SFH today that is for sale a couple blocks away.  It is on essentially the same street, which we are okay renting on, but it isn't our first choice for buying...
« Last Edit: December 11, 2015, 10:03:00 AM by catccc »